The Bob Seger System - Noah (1969)

For reasons never entirely explained, Bob Seger suffered a bit of a breakdown shortly after Ramblin' Gamblin' Man, so he decided to bring Tom Neme, a guitarist/pianist, into the Bob Seger System to help lighten the load and share the burden. Thing is, Neme wound up taking over the band. It's hard to tell whether Seger endorsed his mutiny or if he was just so disinterested that he didn't put up a fight, but all the same, the second Seger album, Noah, is one strange affair. The band makes no secret of the change, stating on the back cover that "Seger will always be Bob Seger, (but) any change must come from the System and Tom Neme." So, the liner notes seem like a way to gloss over a real lack of leadership or a coup, depending on your point of view. This release holds together better than it would seem, but it's still an awkward album that's never sure where it wants to go. Ironically, Neme tries to replicate Seger's hard-driving rock songs several times throughout the album while Seger sounds more comfortable with the folky shuffle of the title track. Of course, he can still tear it up with "Innervenus Eyes," and he delves deeper into darkness than he ever has with the weirdly intense, claustrophobic closer, "Death Row." No matter how good these individual cuts may be -- and they're certainly worth the time of any devoted fan -- they still are isolated moments on the only album where he sounds tentative, confused, and disinterested. In other words, the only album where Seger doesn't seem like he'll always be Seger. (allmusic)

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